Communicating Effectively: How to be Assertive at Home

You wake up tired.  Your back’s sore and your bones ache.  Robotically, you get out of bed (slowly) and move towards the shower, picking up the kid’s toys off the floor before you fall over them and grabbing a pair of undies left on the floor by your 5-year-old, you pop them into the laundry basket.

Your shower, formerly a luxurious place of respite when you were young and single (or certainly childless) is no longer that.  It’s pop in and rush out.  Over and done.

You focus on the next task.  Finding the cucumber (that’s gone off) to wedge between the ham and cheese on the children’s school-lunches.  Oh, and you must remember to pack Tim’s soccer boots or else he can’t play.  He loves his soccer and you don’t want to let him down. By mistake you trip over the cat and fall flat on the floor, realising you’ve hurt your hip.

You feel cranky and frustrated, but can’t stop.  Oh no.  Too much too do.  You iron a crumpled shirt that looks ‘corporate’ enough, head to load a wash in the machine, take dinner out of the freezer for tonight, ensure the dog has water in his bowl, get dressed (hurriedly) and make a miserable attempt at putting make-up on.  What’s the point you ask?  It only comes off – so you don’t bother.

As you get the kids up, hurrying them along, getting them breakfast, making sure they are organised for the day, you then all rush out the door, scramble into the car and you’re on our way.  Goodo.

Then you remember you forgot your wallet next to your bed and left the iron on.  Nobody is there to call to rescue you or switch the iron off.  You drop the kids, stop on the side of the road, and just cry.  It’s all too much…. and never stops.

Sound like your life?  Or your former life?

Overwhelmed by the demands of life

Women carry an enormous burden.  We do almost everything – from cooking and cleaning, to raising the children, looking after aging parents, being a confidante to our neighbour, ongoing support for our friends, looking after people at work, making sure the home fires are burning and the machine is turning properly.  Like a well-oiled engine.

It is possible little of these demands will change for women, unless we learn key communication techniques and how to be assertive and get the help we need.

We were NOT born to serve the world and think about ourselves last.  It is the reason why countless women with whom I work are constantly tired or anxious or quite frankly, depressed. 

They do too much at work and home. 

And at home, the more they do, the less others do.  The less others do, they more they do. 

The downward exhausting spiral feels endless.

Many women I talk to tell me they’re overloaded and feel invisible.  Like they’re there to do everything and make sure everybody else is well looked after first and foremost.  Some even argue that’s a ‘woman’s lot.’

I’m here to tell you it’s not.  This is your life.  Sure, you need to look after your family.  We all do, but you have a life too and it’s time you claimed it back, starting with assertive communication.

Feeling invisible as a woman

Feeling invisible is something many women experience. It’s uncomfortable, frustrating and upsetting when we feel no one notices our presence nor takes us seriously. For most women, the feelings associated with not being heard is a daily experience that undermines their self-esteem and confidence and inhibits their ability to achieve success.

Different types of communication at home

There are various ways to communicate at home (anywhere, in fact) that often dictate whether the outcome of a communication or discussion is productive or not. And for leaders in the household, it is critical to communicate effectively as it’s a key aspect of influencing the troops.

Passive behaviour – often we take on board what others say or communicate to us, without putting our view point across.  What a person thinks or their opinions appear to be less important than others opinions (according to the individual) and often they’ll walk away from a disagreement or challenging situation frustrated and angry.  Mostly at themselves for not standing up for what they believe in.

Aggressive behaviour – I win and you lose.  The behaviour of the bully, whose opinion (apparently, they believe) is more important than anybody else’s.  Their tactics generally are not to listen to others, talk over them and dominate most conversations, team meetings and outings.  Generally, they are difficult to live with and have a very deflating and distressing effect on others.

Assertive communication – This is the person who values what contribution they bring to the table and have their say, calmly.   They believe that they, and their opinion, matter.

What does it mean to communicate effectively?

Simply, it means getting your message across in a way that the person listening to you understands what you are trying to say.  Tone is important too, which is more about HOW we say something as opposed to WHAT we say.

Effective communicators are people who clearly articulate their message (opinions or thoughts) in a calm and rational manner than ensures their message is conveyed and understood effectively.  They feel listened to and heard.

Sharing the load at home

When I work with families, I always talk about a ‘fair load’ and who does what?  Mum should not be doing everything and as soon as children are old enough, they should be designated chores (vacuuming, feed the dog etc) and house demands should be equally shared by both partners in the relationship and at home.  If one is a home-keeper and the other goes to work, then the workload may be bigger for one than the other but this is arrived at through discussion and assertive communication on the part of both people.

It’s when one partner feels undervalued, overwhelmed and unsupported that problems arise.

Assertive communication increases feeling empowered

Women who are assertive and have good communication skills tend to have more confidence in themselves, they feel more able to get their message across and are often taken more seriously by others because they communicate effectively and well. In short, communicating effectively leads to women feeling more empowered and in control of their lives. They see themselves as valuable contributors at work and home and they are valued.

5 tips to communicate effectively and be assertive at home

  1. Stay calm in any situation.  If you are in a discussion with a family member and things are getting heated, for example, don’t be aggressive or passive.  Merely mention that things will not be resolved in this way and suggest the issue is kept for later or for another discussion time when emotions have died down
  2. Think about what you want to say and the message you want to convey before you do so, particularly if you feel you don’t communicate as well as you can all the time.  Write down your thoughts on a piece of paper before the discussion to make sure you raise all the items you want to talk about
  3. Learn the formula to be assertive and use it.  It’s used around the world and is called the I statement and it looks like this:
    1. The event:  When you speak to me like that…..
    2. The response:  I feel very undervalued as your partner
    3. Preferred outcome:  So could you please speak calmly to me
    4. Future expectations:  Moving forward I would like us to have calm discussions that are productive
  4. Stand up for yourself and stand your ground.  If somebody at home is saying something you don’t agree with, say ‘thanks for your opinion but I disagree’ and then give the reason.  If they try and turn your perspective around, politely thank them for their idea but say ‘I still stick with what I believe.’
  5. Be polite.  Assertive people don’t get angry and shout and scream.  They hold onto their emotions and manage the situation well, leaving them in control of the communication and not others.

Effective communication and being assertive is not a nice to have.  It’s a critical to have in all our relationships and particularly at home – the nucleus of our families.   The best families are people who listen to each other, take others opinions on board and express their perspective in a collaborative and meaningful way.  Not easy to do, but a skill to learn.

So many women feel their lives are designed to provide for others.

To cook, clean taxi children around and to make sure that everybody – their friends, family and the village – is thriving but often at our own expensive.

Stage 2 of our Be Unstoppable online women’s empowerment Program looks at the valuable life you as a woman can lead, increase your self-esteem and how critically important you are in designing your own path and journey.  How you see you and your experiences greatly shapes the woman you are.  To have so much to love, live and enjoy.

The Be Unstoppable Program has been written for all women around the world, no matter where you are, to help you take control of your, feel more confident about you and it gives you ways to be more resilient, manage stress well and communicate more assertively.

Find out more here:

Or you can chat with us about any concerns or ideas you have about how you would like to improve your communication skills. Book a free discussion on

Photo credit: rawpixel on Unsplash.

Leave a Reply